16 September 2012

Farkle Time Again

It's that time again ... we have most of our longer trips for this year done and I'm getting the things I wished I had for those trips. Oh well. Better late then never I guess. 

Traxxion AK-20

The first one is hard to capture in photos and even harder to describe why wanted it:

Traxxion AK-20 Top Cap

You have to look to the right of handle bar riser - the thing were there fork leg comes up through the upper triple clamp. That's the top cap of my new Traxxion AK-20 fork cartridge.

I finally bit the bullet and "fixed" what Triumph should have done in the first place - the really crappy front suspension of the Tiger 800 Roadie. The OEM suspension has an overly pre-loaded, weak (0.6kg/mm) spring, with way too much compression damping and way too much rebound damping (though still not in balance with the massive amount of compression) and no adjustment options at all. What that means is that the Tiger Roadie has a tendency to "bounce". It pushes the front up way too much when going over slight bumps, it's not very comfortable and especially not very confidence inspiring on curvy but bad surfaced roads. 

To cut it short: this is the first bike I ever owned where the suspension is crappy enough I felt the need to spend serious money to fix it. Bummer, but true. I never had a bike that had such an unbalanced front suspension. Some were way to soft, other's to harsh, but none was ever so completely broken.

And let me tell you: it was soooooo worth the money! 

The OEM suspension is not adjustable at all, therefore there was no way to get it less bad without opening it, getting a new spring and a re-valve kit at the least. This would have meant another compromise as though it would have been much better, but it would still not be adjustable at all. Therefore I decided to go with a cartridge kit from Traxxion, the AK-20, which has full pre-load, compression, and rebound adjustment. 

Right adjustment cap

In the photo above you can see the right fork leg cap. The black allen socket is for pre-load adjustment (available on both fork legs), the little red socket is for rebound (right, red, rebound - easy to remember). The left fork leg has the compression damping adjustment. The cartridges also came with springs selected for my weight (0.875kg/mm).

After installation the values were set to what Traxxion recommended and they were spot on. The rider sag was exactly where it should be for the 180mm travel forks: at 55mm. 

Now the Tiger is 
  • more comfortable,
  • more stable,
  • way more compliant on large and small bumps, sharp or soft,
  • way less "bouncy".
I'm very, very happy with the results and can only say "Shame on you, Triumph, for delivering such a nice bike with such a crappy front suspension".

The rear is not quite as bad and not quite as far off as the front, therefore this has time for a later re-visit. I might still do it but will give the market some time to come up with nice adjustable rear shocks. 

Btw: the front cartridges can be taken out again, sent to Traxxion, and re-worked for a different bike if that's necessary at some point. Pretty good!

Jesse Odyssey II Luggage

Our trips lately have become longer and more involved. We were looking for luggage solutions for a while where we could just lock the cases and leave the bike alone at least for a short time without worrying too much. 

I am totally aware that anybody who wants to steal will still easily get into the cases with just a bit of force but it follows the idea of "out of sight out of mind". Hard cases hide the fact whether they are loaded or not, they look "closed properly" and are at least a little bit harder to steal from than a duffle bag strapped to the rear of the bike.

I looked at most solutions out there and really wasn't sure what to do. Again, quite a good selection, at least when you also start looking outside North America as some of the available options are just too expensive when bought here.

In the end I settled on Jesse Luggage this time around. They have fairly large sized boxes without getting overly wide (97cm right now, can be brought in about 3cm with a narrower exhaust). These boxes have some benefits I really liked:
  • They are not too wide for the volume they have (94cm min with a listed volume of 105 liters). I really don't believe the volume is really over 50 liters per box, but I'd say there are probably about 80 to 90 usable liters and that's more than good enough for me.
  • The boxes can be moved forward or back depending on whether you need space on the passenger footpegs or not. That brings weight lower and more forward in the cases where I ride alone with luggage (99.9% of the time so far).
  • Opening is from the top, so stuffing them with all the bits and pieces for a trip is simple. Getting stuff out from the bottom is easy, too, as long as I use stuff bags or liners.
  • They look okay.
  • They weren't too outrageously expensive.
  • The racks look fairly nice, even with the boxes off.
Once I have used them a bit, I'll do a full review and will also outline some really nice details that I had not known before buying them. 

Here are just some pictures with them on the bike for now:

Jesse Odyssey II - Rear

Front

Side view

This setup isn't nearly as narrow as what I had on my R1200GS, right now it's actually 15cm wider, but it is still within a reasonable limit. At some point I might get a smaller after market exhaust and pull the right side another 3cm in which makes it pretty much the same as the handle bar width. That I can live with.

Overall capacity with the setup you see above is somewhere between 135 and 150 liters, about the same my Mazda MX-5 had as trunk space ... this will likely work for Andrea and me for short to medium length trips. For longer ones we might add capacity to her bike, too, but a longer trip is likely far in the future. This setup easily works for a week or two for the two of us.

8 comments:

  1. The cases look really great, and make for a huge footprint. Nice if one bike can carry the major load when traveling, or when you just want to travel two up for a trip.

    I am shocked about the shocks!

    My Harley has a crappy suspension, but... it's a Harley and I knew what I was getting for the buck.

    If you haven't done it already maybe you should voice your opinion and write back to Triumph. For a motorcycle in that price bracket it should offer a half decent adjustable suspension.

    But farkling is nice, eh?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You are certainly right about the footprint. That's what I don't like so much. Jesse also has some smaller cases, but I really didn't like their looks and that they were higher than the passenger seat.

      For the forks: yeah, it's a very common complaint about the Roadie, a bit less so on the XC version. A lot of people have their forks innards re-worked or replaced at some point in time. Some earlier, some later. I have more than 4k miles on the Tiger now and it was about time.

      Triumph has ownership surveys and I filled them out very truthfully - being pretty direct about my opinion on the forks and the brakes, that I think it's a shame that they build a bike that has awesome components (Street Triple R) while being cheaper is quite a let down.

      And yes - farkling is nice. Gives a feeling of uniques to the own bike.

      And don't get me wrong, even while ranting about some shortcomings on the Tiger, it is still one of the most versatile bikes I have ever owned. And most of the niggling things can be taken care of.

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  2. The luggage looks great even with the wide footprint. Just think of all the goodies you can carry on long trips.

    I wasn't aware the front suspension on the Tiger Roadie was that bad. We have two friends that have them and they have some complaints, but I can't remember if front suspension is one of them. Will have to try and remember to ask them.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. There is also quite some variance in the Tigers. I test rode several Roadies before buying mine, at least two were significantly better, at least one was worse. So, it could be model variance, build date (Showa builds them and probably delivers assembled units), and so on.

      It also likely depends on rider weight how bad it really is.

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  3. Guido:

    I like your side cases. I like the idea they load from the top. All of mine load from the side and everything inside falls out when you open them.

    bob
    Riding the Wet Coast
    My Flickr // My YouTube

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes, the top loading is a bonus. I generally like "boxy" shapes better though as they are much easier to use with pannier liners, but I'll manage.

      As said, once I have used them a bit I'll write a more detailed review about pros/cons and will outline some of the really nice details and some of the less nice. Overall, so far I'm satisfied with them.

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  4. Really nice looking setup. I like the idea of a top loading pannier though I have no experience with them at all. The side loading ones on my old airhead are sort of a hassle as everything wants to come out when they're opened up.

    Have you tried the new front suspension off the highway yet?

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    Replies
    1. I had the Micatech "semi side loading" before that have a little well at the bottom which prevents things from out, but the top loading panniers are better for stuffing things in. Not sure which ones I actually like better, they both have their advantages and disadvantages.

      Regarding the suspension, I rarely ever ride "off-pavement", off the highway - certainly. It is a major step up for me. The bike pushes less over the front wheel, is more stable, way more confidence inspiring. What the bouncing also did for me was making the bike a little unstable in corners with sharp bumps or very uneven pavement. That's much better now, too.

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